FREMANTLE superstar Nat Fyfe isn’t the only man thanking the heavens for the AFL Match Review Panel’s lenience.
Punters across Australia who have smashed the gun midfielder into red hot favouritism for the Brownlow Medal are also breathing a sigh of relief.
The volatile Fyfe was cited for a third time this season, but the Match Review Panel decided he had no case to answer as his high hit on North Melbourne’s Ben Jacobs was deemed to be “a legitimate attempt to win the loose ball, and that he contested the ball with his arms reaching out in front of his body.”
The MRP said he made “incidental” high contact to Jacobs’ face with his arm and a free kick was paid.
Although Fyfe’s body then followed through and hit Jacobs’ chest, the panel said there was insufficient forceful high contact to see him receive a third fine.
On receiving the news Fyfe would be cleared to play, our friends at Sportsbet.com.au wound the Docker’s price back in from $2.25 to the $1.75.
West Coast’s curly haired mid Matt Priddis is Fyfe’s nearest challenger at $4.50 as he seeks to win back to back Brownlows, while gun North Melbourne ruck man Todd Goldstein is next at $7 and red hot Adelaide Crow Patrick Dangerfield is $8, but both those men have drifted after Fyfe was given the all clear.
“It’s high fyfes all round for those punters who are on the Dockers star,” the bookie’s Christian Jantzen said.
“He lives to fight another day.”
At CrownBet.com.au, the AFL’s official wagering partner, Fyfe actually drifted out.
“It’s all very much alive in the Brownlow, Fyfe has drifted – again – to $1.75, out from $1.65, while Matt Priddis has shortened in to $4, from $6.50,” the bookie’s Rob Cumbrae-Stewart said.
Had Fyfe copped even a financial sanction, it would have been his third such incident of the year and that would have meant an automatic one match suspension and you know what that means – disqualification from the Brownlow race.
The match review did not come without some further controversy, after panel member Nathan Burke made some comments on radio about the incident.
“It is likely front-on contact, it will be rough conduct,” Burke said.
“We’ll look if he was contesting the ball — there are alternative ways to contest the ball.
“We’ll look at the level of impact. I’m pretty sure intentional (conduct) is off the table.
“I don’t want to talk too soon, but it would be (regarded as) accidental.”
In the wake of his comments, AFL operations manager Mark Evans asked him to step aside from the panel reviewing.
He did so and the remaining three panelists, Michael Christian, Luke Ball and Brad Sewell, were left to rule on the incident.
“I did ask him (Burke) to step aside from the Fyfe case – it was a more prudent course of action – and Nathan agreed to that,” Evans said.
Fyfe has had a stellar season that entered a slight lull in recent weeks, but if he wins this year’s Brownlow, he will become the first Docker to do so in the club’s history.
He had just 21 touches as the Dockers lowered their colours to North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on the weekend, 14.10 (94) to 12.11 (83).
Despite the loss, Fremantle is a steady $4.25 third favourite to West Coast and main fancies Hawthorn, which lost to Port Adelaide on Friday night, 16.12 (108) to 13.8 (86), and was subsequently wound out from $2.10 to $2.70 at CrownBet.com.au.
The Eagles were jammed in from $5.50 to $3.75 after they smoked the Western Bulldogs by 77 points, 25.12 (162) to 13.7 (85).
And no wonder Priddis is the man punters believe most likely to challenge Fyfe for the Brownlow, after he had a monstrous 37 disposals and seven tackles in the rout.
But he might have competition for the three votes from gun forward Josh Kennedy, who booted seven goals, had 21 disposals and plucked 14 marks in a superb tour de force.
With a lead of 17 goals, CrownBet has declared Kennedy the winner of the 2015 Coleman Medal and have paid out all single bets on him.
In other markets, Sydney has closed in on the double chance, they are in to $1.21, from $1.24, to finish in the top four, while the Dogs’ chance is all but gone after they drifted from $3.50 to $12, following their monstrous hiding at the hands of the Eagles.
It’s race in two for the final position in the top eight, with the Crows holding all the aces at $1.26, wound in from $1.30. Geelong’s draw with St Kilda has almost killed off its finals chances, drifting to $3.75 from $2.75.
And in the battle of the future legends, Carlton’s Patrick Cripps is back into favouritism at $1.80, in from $2.20, going back ahead of Melbourne key forward Jesse Hogan, who was wound out from $1.65 into $2, Cumbrae-Stewart remarking that the market had done a complete “180”.
On a less serious AFL betting note, the Sportsbet crew has released a market on exactly what deposed Essendon coach James Hird will do next, after he was dumped as the club’s mentor last week.
“James Hird just about has more university degrees than the Bombers have wins in season 2015, so he shouldn’t have any trouble getting a new gig,” Jantzen said.
“We’ve created a fictional market on what one of football’s brightest people will do next and it’s no surprise to see a return to being director at sports marketing company Gemba as the $1.66 favourite, given he helped create the business.
“Offers to be a commentator ($3) will no doubt come flooding in, and Hird is already a proven hit “On The Couch” ($16).
“Those scenarios are much more likely than Hirdy using his Bombers’ experience to become a pharmaceutical rep ($41), or become an AFL coach at a different club, which is priced at $101.
“Although he’d get a walk-up start at Essendon at the moment, Hird is $501 to return to the playing field at the age of 42.
“James Hird is far too intelligent to stay in the football world and it’s probably cost him millions by not moving into the corporate world sooner.”
Brownlow Medal Winner
Matt Priddis ($4.50, steady)
Todd Goldstein ($7, out from $6)
Patrick Dangerfield ($8, out from $7)
Daniel Hannebery ($14, out from $11)
Sam Mitchell ($14, out from $11)
Andrew Gaff ($16, out from $15)
Scott Pendlebury ($21, out from $16)
David Mundy ($26, out from $21)
Hawthorn Hawks ($2.70, out from $2.10)
West Coast Eagles ($3.75, in from $5.50)
Fremantle Dockers ($4.25, steady)
Sydney Swans ($10, steady)
Richmond Tigers ($15, in from $17)
Western Bulldogs ($31, out from $26)
North Melbourne ($31, in from $31)
Adelaide Crows ($51, in from $67)
Geelong Cats ($151, out from $126)
Top four finish
Sydney Swans ($1.21, in from $1.24)
Richmond Tigers ($6.50, in from $9)
Western Bulldogs ($12, out from $3.50)
North Melbourne Kangaroos ($26, out from $12)
Adelaide Crows ($81, in from $101)
To make the top eight
Hawthorn Hawks, West Coast Eagles, Fremantle Dockers, Sydney Swans, Richmond Tigers, North Melbourne Kangaroos and Western Bulldogs all sealed –
Adelaide Crows ($1.26, in from $1.30)
Geelong Cats ($3.75, out from $2.75)
Patrick Cripps (Carlton Blues, nominated in round four)($1.80, in from $2.20)
Jesse Hogan (Melbourne Demons, nominated in round nine ($2, out from $1.65)
Dom Sheed (West Coast Eagles, nominated in round 15) ($17, steady)
What will James Hird do next?
Return to Director of Gemba ($1.66)
Writer for Herald Sun ($4)
Writer for The Age ($12)
Join On The Couch ($16)
Gap Year ($26)
University Lecturer ($34)
Player Manager ($34)
Pharmaceutical Company Rep ($41)
Director of Football at any AFL club ($41)
Board member of any AFL club ($51)
Assistant Coach ($67)
AFL Coach ($101)
CEO of AFL club ($151)
Return to playing ($501)
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